Are you also the kind of traveller who always books the cheapest hostels with a kitchen so that you can prepare your own meal? You spend your day looking forward to your favourite meal, but then you cannot find most of the ingredients of your favourite dish on the market. By the time you get to your hostel you will find a very limited assortment of cooking supplies. Two pots, something that looks like a ladle and a plate that serves as a cutting board. And, of course, the oven is broken.
Does this sound familiar to you? This happened to me a number of times but still I managed to whip up a tasty meal in hostels most of the time. By now I have discovered some recipes for which you don’t need a lot of cooking supplies or an oven. Just simple recipes with ingredients that you can find in most countries in South America.
In my backpack I always carry pepper, salt, flavour cubes and oil because some hostels do not supply this for you. For the dishes in this post you don’t need more than 2 regular pots or one pot and a saucepan nor an oven. Check out these 9 easy to prepare hostelproof meals for vegetarians and vegans.
1. AVOCADO, TOMATO AND COUSCOUS SALAD (VEGAN)
This simple salad is one of my all-time favourites. When I was backpacking in South America I ate this salad at least once a week. For the ones that hate doing dishes it is also a great recipe because you only need one pot. 😉
1 cup couscous
Boil 3 cups of water and add a little oil and salt. Take the pot off the water when it starts cooking and add the cup of couscous. In the meantime, cut the avocado into strips and the tomato and cucumber into cubes. Wait until the couscous is cooled off and throw everything in a bowl. Add some pepper, salt and oil for taste. Easy peasy lemon squeezy right?
2. RISOTTO (VEGAN)
I used to think that risotto was a fancy dish that I could only order in restaurants. But I have discovered a simple but delicious recipe for a pumpkin risotto (that you can actually prepare it with almost any vegetable).
1 garlic clove
1 cup risotto rice (or regular rice)
1 flavour cube
2 tea spoons pesto
Boil 3 cups of water. After you have boiled the water, dissolve the flavour cube and add the risotto or rice with a little oil and salt on low heat. Stir the risotto rice regularly. In the meantime, cut the pumpkin into cubes and chop the garlic clove as finely as you can. Fry the garlic clove briefly in another pan and add the pumpkin with a bit of water.
Taste the rice and add a little water if it is not completely cooked yet. The same goes for the pumpkin. When both are cooked, the rice and pumpkin can be combined in a pot. Add pepper and salt for extra taste. And for the lucky ones: if you have been able to find pesto then also add 2 tablespoons for some extra flavour.
3. PASTA (VEGA)
There is no way pasta is not on this list. There are countless ways to prepare pasta. As we do not have time for that I included the recipe below, which is my favourite way to prepare pasta.
2 hands full cherry tomatoes (of 2 regular tomatoes)
200 grams pasta
1 garlic clove
2 tea spoons pesto
150 ml crème fraîche
Boil the pasta in a pan of water with a little oil and salt. Finely chop the garlic clove. Wash the cherry tomatoes (or wash the regular tomatoes and dice them if you could not find any cherry tomatoes). Drain the pasta when it is cooked. Add 2 tablespoons of pesto and crème fraîche and put the pot on low heat. Add the cherry tomatoes (or regular tomato) to the pot for a few minutes. Enjoy!
4. LENTIL SOUP (VEGAN)
A brown mashed slurry may not look that tasty, but lentil soup is a nutritious and easy meal to prepare. Plus you don’t have to worry that someone at the hostel steals away your dinner from the shared fridge.
1 ½ cup brown lentils
1 tea spoon soy sauce
Cook the lentils in a pan with water and salt and a little oil. Depending on the lentils, it takes about 30 to 45 minutes for the lentils to be done. You determine the density of your soup by the amount of water you add. In the meantime, peel the carrot and cut it into parts. Add the carrots after 15 minutes and boil them with the lentils.
If you have been able to find celery (I have hardly seen it anywhere in South America) then cut 2 sticks of celery into pieces and cook them for 10 minutes with the lentils and carrots. Add some salt and pepper and (optionally) serve the soup with some bread.
5. SWEET POTATO AND VEGETABLES (VEGAN)
This dish is so basic but so tasty. In an exotic climate you sometimes just don’t desire a big hot plate and in this case sweet potato with vegetables makes for a perfect meal.
1 sweet potato
2 tea spoons hot sauce
Put a pot of water on the fire. Wash and peel the sweet potato and cut it into large pieces. Wash the parts again and add them to the water with a little salt and oil. Cut the zucchini into thin circles. Grill the zucchini on low heat with oil on both sides, with a bit of pepper, salt and hot sauce for those who love a bit of spice. Wait until the potatoes and zucchini are done and voila, you can eat.
6. CURRY (VEGAN)
As you might now South America is not the right continent to find a divine curry (check out this delicious Thai restaurant in Pipa in Brazil though). But we can do the best we can and prepare ourselves a simple and tasty curry.
100 grams chick peas
1 cup rice
150 ml coconut milk
2 tea spoons curry powder
1 hand full of cashew nuts
Boil 3 or 4 cups of water in a pan with a little oil and salt. Add the rice when the water boils and close the pot with a lid (or plate if you cannot find it). Dice the zucchini and onion. Fry the zucchini and onion briefly in a little oil and add the coconut milk and 2 teaspoons of curry powder. Keep a close eye on the rice and stir the vegetables regularly. Add the chickpeas and possibly cashew nuts in the last 5 minutes.
7. RICE WITH VEGETABLES (VEGAN)
In every part of the world you will find rice and vegetables. Plus it is cheap and super easy to prepare, so if you loose cooking inspiration this is your go-to.
1 zucchini or
1 egg plant or
1 chinese cabbage or
Which ever veggie you feel like.
1 cup rice
soy sauce or ketjap
Boil 3 or 4 cups of water in a pan. Add the rice when the water boils with a little salt and oil. Cut the vegetable of choice and the onion into parts and fry it briefly in a pot with oil and a bit of water until they are cooked. Add soy or ketjap sauce for taste. Serve the rice with a little extra soy sauce or ketjap.
8. VEGGIE WRAPS (VEGAN)
Just the thought of Mexican food instantly makes me feel hungry. In my opinion Mexican cuisine is the best kitchen, and many dishes are also easy to prepare quickly such as these delicious veggie wraps.
100 grams brown beans or
100 grams black beans
1 bell pepper
Liberate the avocado from its skin and remove the seed. Cut the avocado into cubes and mash it (with a fork or something similar). Cut the tomato into small cubes and add it to the avocado. Add some oil, pepper salt and optionally a bit of hot sauce. BAM, guacamole!
Cut the onion and bell pepper into cubes and fry them in oil. When these are fried, add the brown or black beans and fry them until they are well warm. Heat the wraps in the microwave and, if you don’t have one, heat the wraps in a pan on low heat without oil. Spread the guacamole on the wraps and divide the vegetables between the 3 wraps. Roll up the wraps. Bon appetit!
9. TORTILLA (VEGA)
I pretty much got the hang of this dish after I lived in Spain for 6 monhts. To be honest, I think my tortilla is even better than the Spanish ones because tortillas are incredibly salty in Spain. Rumour has it you need to have to have a saucepan to prepare a tortilla, but it can be done with a regular pot (it is just a bit more difficult).
Place a pot on the fire with water. Wash and peel the potatoes. Wash the peeled potatoes again, cut them into small parts and add them to the boiling water with a little salt and oil. Break the 6 eggs in a bowl and stir them with a tinker (or a spoon, or fork, or well you get the point). Drain the potatoes when they are done and add them to the eggs with a little salt.
Slice the onion and fry it briefly in oil. Add this to the eggs and potatoes and stir them well. Take a clean saucepan (or pot) and throw in a lot of oil on low heat. Keep the heat low and pour the mix into the saucepan (or pot). Cover the saucepan (or pot) with a lid (or plate). Try to judge whether the substance is already cooked enough to turn, but do not remove the lid (or plate) too often.
Then we get to the fun part: turning the tortilla. If you think your tortilla is ready, carefully turn the saucepan (or pot) over a plate. If necessary, add a little oil to the saucepan (or pot) and briefly fry the tortilla on the other side. Can you manage to get the tortilla in one piece to the table?
Without a doubt you will discover many more hostelproof dishes while travelling, but this is just enough to get you started. I always enjoy cooking with other travellers and making new friends or discovering new dishes. Don’t be shy, cook a large pot of food every once in a while, get a bottle of wine, invite people in your hostel and get to know new people and their stories.
Also consider taking a local cooking course to learn about the gastronomy and culture of the country that you visit. A local cooking class is a sustainable activity that supports local communities, but it is also fun. If you eat vegetarian or vegan like me, always check in advance if there are any options. A cooking class with a local could be an exchange of ideas, where you might teach a thing or two to the chef.